Saturday, February 09, 2002


Leonard Maltin gives this one three and a half stars and calls it a neglected gem. I didn't feel quite so positively toward it, but it is a must for Myrna Loy fans. The set-up is presented at unnecessary length and in a rather convoluted manner. Suffice to say that Warner Baxter is a rich and famous lawyer who has just gotten gangster Nat Pendleton off on a murder charge. We're to believe that Pendleton was indeed innocent, but that he nevertheless has a history of crime in his past. But he's sort of a low-level gangster with a heart of gold and he's so grateful to Baxter that he assigns bodyguards to him night and day, just for the heck of it. Because Baxter won't promise not to represent such shady characters in the future, his law firm fires him and his fiancee dumps him all in the same day.

Then things get complicated. Basically, his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend (Phillips Holmes) is accused of the murder of *his* ex-girlfriend (Mae Clarke). We see the events leading up to the murder, on a penthouse balcony during a big party, and eventually we discover that the boyfriend has been set up by a big-time gangster (C. Henry Gordon). Baxter's ex begs him to defend the boyfriend. In the course of things, Baxter is set up with call girl Myrna Loy; they take a shine to each other and she helps him get the goods on Gordon.

The movie is described in film guides as a comedy and is sometimes compared to THE THIN MAN, but don't you believe it. Despite the murder and mayhem, the proceedings do remain light, but it's really stretching it to call it a comedy. It gets rather bogged down in the middle; Loy is the reason I stuck with it. Pendleton is good and so is Charles Butterworth as Baxter's butler; both provide nice moments of comic relief. At 90 minutes, it feels a bit too long.

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